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This time last week, a further lockdown in England seemed far from certain. Today, Lockdown 2.0 ploughs into a housing market busier than most can remember. True, the market will remain open over the next four weeks, but whichever stage of the process you’ve reached, the additional limitations will further fan the flames of uncertainty.
In recent months, the government have continued to update their guidance, and below, we have set out our own tips to help smooth the journey to your new home.
In even the most straightforward of transactions there will be a number of people involved in the process. This may include a removal company, a mortgage lender, a surveyor, tradespeople and, of course, your solicitor. Each and every one of them are currently facing their own challenges, affected not only by government guidance, but also by the nature of their job, volumes of work and staff sickness/self-isolation.
BLB property specialist, Victoria Cranwell says “from the outset it’s advisable to contact others involved in the process to ascertain whether they anticipate any problems, to clarify their contingency plans if staff are off sick or in quarantine, and whether there is any action that you can take at this or a later stage to help keep everything on track. Transparency between all parties involved is going to be crucial in keeping transactions moving as smoothly as possible.”
Early instruction is crucial across the board, but if you’re selling, you should instruct a solicitor as soon as you decide to market your property. In an earlier article, we explained how this simple step can reduce the length of the conveyancing process, sometimes by several weeks. This is particularly important for those needing to complete before the end of the stamp duty holiday on 31 March 2021.
Estate Agents and Surveyors
These are the two professionals who are most likely to need to enter your home. Before doing so, they will wish to discuss with you how that will be achieved with as little risk as possible to you and them. Further, estate agents will need to explain how viewings by potential purchasers will take place.
In advance of their visit, they will require from you:
- confirmation of the number of people in the household;
- assurance that current social distancing requirements will be observed during their visit;
- confirmation that nobody in the household has virus symptoms, is self-isolating in accordance with government guidelines, or has knowingly been in contact with a person with virus symptoms within the preceding seven days;
- confirmation that no one else will visit the property during the inspection.
Be aware that they are unlikely to agree to a visit unless positive responses are received from you. On arrival, and before entering the property, they will seek assurance that the information provided has not changed. If it has, or they believe that incorrect information has been provided, they may terminate the visit, potentially causing delay to your transaction.
Use professional removers
If you can possibly afford to, use professional removers. More generally, not only do they have the correct equipment to move you in a safe and secure way, they have insurance if something goes wrong. But in addition, in the current Covid environment, they will have in place procedures, equipment and PPE to help reduce the risk of infection to you, your family and their employees.
Early booking is essential and when you first speak to them, ask about their Covid-secure operating measures, including the supply of packaging.
Clean, clean, clean
In the past, as removers emptied each room, we would hurriedly vacuum the floor, dust the windowsill, and discretely wipe away the mould exposed by the removal of the wardrobe. Now, hygiene is key. It’s one thing to leave your buyers with the impression that you are less than diligent with your housework, it’s another thing entirely to expose them to infection.
Have at hand your own generous supply of both PPE and antiviral cleaning products. Before leaving, clean your old home as thoroughly as time will allow. Hopefully, those vacating your new home will have been just as thorough, but you cannot simply assume that is the case. If at all possible, clean the house as soon as you arrive, while taking all possible precautions with PPE.